Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitching Depth Takes a Hit

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pitching Depth Takes a Hit

Article excerpt

The Pirates traded minor league starter Clayton Richard to the Chicago Cubs Friday, which on the surface was not exactly huge news, as he hadn't pitched in the major leagues this season.

But that move could prove to be significant if the Pirates have an injury or two to the rotation, because it is yet another blow to the organization's starting pitching depth.

That depth has potentially gone from a strength to an area of concern in a matter of a few months because of a rash of injuries.

Right now, the next guy in line to start for the Pirates behind the five starters in the rotation and long reliever Vance Worley is likely Radhames Liz, who was with the major league team to start the season but was designated for assignment May 25 after appearing in 11 games.

Beyond Liz, the Pirates could look to pitchers such as Adrian Sampson and Chris Volstad, but they are either unproven or to this point career minor leaguers.

Manager Clint Hurdle doesn't think there is any reason to panic, because the team has six capable starters on the major league roster, but he agrees that the margin for error is far less than what the organization had envisioned at this point in the season.

"No, I still think we are in a place where we are covered," Hurdle said when asked about the lack of depth. "If something were to happen here and we lost two starters, that might change. We have lost our surplus. We had great depth at one point, now our depth isn't as deep."

The Pirates could have help in the form of Casey Sadler, who could return soon from a forearm strain, but they have lost Nick Kingham, Jameson Taillon and Brandon Cumpton for the season and Tyler Glasnow is likely not a viable option for this year either.

Liz improving

Liz was not claimed by another club when he was designated for assignment, so he is back pitching with Class AAA Indianapolis and recently moved into the starting rotation.

He has made two starts so far, June 26 against Syracuse (4 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 6 strikeouts) and Wednesday against Colorado (5 innings, 1 run, 3 hits, 7 strikeouts), and Hurdle said he has heard nothing but good reports on his progress. …

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